Written by: Shani Fowler
According to Consumer Direct, around three million Brits fall prey to mass marketing scams every year. Figures may actually be even higher than this since many don’t even report their experiences. It is extremely difficult to reunite yourself with your hard earned cash if you fall victim to such scamming, so let’s have a look at what these are so we can be ever vigilant and protect ourselves and our money.
Premium rate numbers
Many of us receive texts, mail or automated messages stating we have won a prize. We are then sent in a joyous spin eager to claim the prize (usually from a competition we haven’t even entered!) All we need to do is simply dial the 090 premium rate number. Who can resist? You can and you must! You are likely to be kept on hold for a long long time – racking up the costs. Whilst you may get a ‘prize’ at the end of the expensive call, it is a token gesture in comparison to what it will have cost you on the phone to get it.
Protect yourself, register with the Telephone Preference Service which should reduce the amount of unwanted calls you receive.
These schemes have been around a long time but their appeal still continues to lure people in. With pyramid selling you are usually invited to sign up to a money making club, frequently through websites and also through friend invitations. The foundation to this scheme is you pay a small joining fee and subsequently invite others to join in so you can claim your reward.
In reality, only those at the top are able to receive a lucrative deal. We can easily fall for these schemes as they can come across as being plausible, reasonable ways to make money, but don’t. The con artists rely on you failing to gain enough newbies and the average victim falls prey to losing around £930.00. This is a lot of money, especially when the aim was to make it!
Foreign letter scam
This is usually a letter or email addressed to you, claiming to be for a government official, accountant or possibly even a lawyer, offering large sums of money if you can help get money out of a foreign country. This correspondence will ask you to transfer millions of dollars to the UK (usually purporting to be due to a major event in that particular country or disaster). You will be promised a cut of this money for your assistance. Hey all you got to do is give your bank details right? Yes then the fraudsters raid your account! Alternatively you may be told to send a fee up front. Don’t. You will not see any money and risk your account being raided. This scam is often referred to as the ‘419 scam’.
This scam can be a very costly one to fall victim to with the average loss of £3030.00. You know how hard it is to win anything decent on a real scratch card right? Well with a holiday scam scratch card, you win all the time! You then have to attend a grand presentation to collect your holiday, which usually means gracing some posh hotel with glossy brochures and posters, all seeming unbelievably real – that’s the key though – it is unbelievable!
Holiday scammers will then put you under pressure (possibly after being plied with lots of alcohol to get you in the mood!) to sign on the dotted line without given the chance to read it through or even think.
Genuine holiday clubs will not do this to you. After you have committed to your ‘free’ holiday you will find you are committed to expensive ‘compulsory’ extras rendering your ‘free holiday’ rather expensive. If you have fallen prey to one of these scams contact the UK’s European Consumer Centre (ECC) on 08456 040503 or contact them via their website ukecc.net and they will advise you regarding any rights you may have.
Job opportunities from home
This scam preys on those who crave the flexibility of being able to work from home. Promises such as making tens of thousands of pounds for as little as 90 minutes work are commonly seen here. They will back these ‘stories’ up with personal case studies to make them seem genuine and appealing.
The scammers make their money through registration fees, leaving you soon realising how much work you actually have to do to even make your money back. If you need to work from home, approach local reputable companies or contact Homeworkers Worldwide on 0113 217 4037 or visit their website homeworkersww.org.uk. If you have to pay to work ask yourself – should that really be the case??
It is a sad fact of life that some people are willing to show no mercy and do almost anything to get at your money. You have to be ever vigilant and always keep your guard up whilst remembering the golden rule – if it sounds too good to be true – it usually is!